Players don't blame Clouston

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:37 PM ET

WASHINGTON You have to wonder if history is going to repeat for the Senators.

An ugly loss to the Capitals on a Sunday afternoon on Feb. 1, 2009, cost Craig Hartsburg his job as coach of the Senators and Cory Clouston was brought up from Binghamton as his replacement.

The heat has been on Clouston for a while and calls for his job are only going to get louder after Sundays 3-1 loss to the Capitals.

But, the Senators arent going to blame the coach for a season that has gone so horribly wrong even as they know questions are going to be raised about Cloustons future after they blew this one.

That first goal against (by Brooks Laich), I passed it out to (Daniel Alfredsson), it bounced over his stick and its in the back of the net. Does that have anything to do with coaching? asked defenceman Chris Phillips, who faced the media after his gaffe.

I dont think so. Its part of the game. If you look at the gameplan, were all on the same page. We all know what to do. We just havent been executing. You look at some of the chances weve had when other teams are making mistakes, and were not capitalizing. To pin that on coaching, I dont think is very fair.

Well find out if GM Bryan Murray feels the same way.

GETTING READY

W Jarrko Ruutu has no illusions. He knows his days are possibly numbered.

There havent been any contract discussions between Murray and Ruutus agent, Don Baizley. There likely wont be before the Senators find him a new home before the Feb. 28 trade deadline.

The 35-year-old pest one of the NHLs most-hated players will be dispatched elsewhere before the deadline in exchange for a draft pick to get his $1.3 million US off the books.

Im an Ottawa Senator. I want to be an Ottawa Senator, but theres things that I cant control, said Ruutu, signed as a UFA in 2008. If trades happen, its out of my control and Im going to have to live with it.

I dont think anything else. I play hard. I understand they can trade anybody if you look at the big picture. Its not that it bothers me or I think of it, but its realistic.

Anybody can see when guys arent playing well enough or to their capabilities, there will be changes. Bryan came out and said that.

The Kings and Sharks, both struggling, are looking to bulk up to try to get into the playoffs. The Penguins would certainly look at the possibility of bringing Ruutu back as well. He was a contributor for them.

BINGO SHUFFLE

The Senators called up G Mike Brodeur to dress as the backup Sunday. They dont want 19-year-old G Robin Lehner sitting on the bench in Ottawa when he has the chance to play in Binghamton ... Its time to send C Corey Locke back to Bingo: He played a total of 7:37 on Sunday on a line with Ruutu and Peter Regin. Locke had two shifts in the third.

IN THE CREASE

Theres no progress on the health of Pascal Leclaire. The injury-riddled Senators goaltender isnt any better, but hes not any worse. Doctors are putting him through tests to decide whats next for his hip, groin and back issue thats kept him out for a month.

Surgery hasnt been ruled out because rest doesnt seem to be doing the injury any good.

Theres no change, said coach Cory Clouston before Sundays game. Hes as disappointed and frustrated as anyone.

I just dont know where hes at right now. We still feel hes going to play again this year. When thats going to be, Im not sure.

C'EST WHAT?

Yeah, well have one, said Caps coach Bruce Boudreau, when asked before the game which goaltender was going to make the start.

THINGS I THINK I THINK

The Senators are 1-8 with C Jason Spezza out of the lineup and the little offence they did have has now completely dried up. Sunday was the 17th time this season theyve been held to one goal or less.

He does a lot of little things that go unnoticed. Hes very good on the faceoffs (and) hes on the penalty kill. He plays some valuable minutes, said coach Cory Clouston.

Weve got to make sure we understand the value of a Jason in this organization. Hes definitely been missed. We dont want to use that as an excuse. ... The Senators had no shots on a second-period power play. Pathetic ... Linesman Derek Nansen showed some toughness. He took a Karl Alzner shot off the leg in the second and got right back up ... D Erik Karlsson might be an all-star, but hes got to clean up his act. He wasnt able to retrieve a puck along the boards and it resulted in Alex Ovechkin getting a chance alone in front. Fortunately, C Mike Fisher blocked the shot ... The Senators opted to make D Matt Carkner a healthy scratch. While the faithful want D Filip Kuba to be scratched, the Sens are going to try to move him at the Feb. 28 deadline. They have to keep him playing if someone is going to take a chance on Kuba, who has a year left on his $3.7 million US contract.


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